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TIME Magazine, February 11, 1946 p.65:|
THE PRESS: Young Man with a Mission
In the luxury of Florida's lush $19,000,000 Boca Raton Club, two news tycoons held an outwardly amiable reunion last week. The host was big, bluff Kent Cooper, 65, executive officer of the Associated Press. His guest, young enough (41) to be his son, was slight, greying, boyish-faced Christopher Chancellor, general manager and rejuvenator of A.P.'s No. 1 world rival, Britain's Reuters Ltd.
While Chancellor and Cooper lolled in 70° sunshine, their great news chains were hotly & heavily invading each other's domains. Reuters had signed up its 44th U.S. client, A.P. had picked up 20 new newspapers in Turkey and was expanding in Europe and India, once Reuters strongholds. Amid the ruins of the 19th-Century cartel that Reuters had ruled, a free-for-all was shaping up. Boyish Christopher Chancellor had a man-sized job.
Man to Man, Eye to Eye. As very friendly enemies, Cooper and Chancellor see eye to eye on such pressing postwar issues as free access to the news (which they loudly favor) and the right of the state to help tell the news (which they loudly deny). They hate subsidies, bias and propaganda, all three of which haunt Reuters past.
Paul Julius Reuter, a German bank clerk, started his business 97 years ago in a pigeon loft at Aix-la-Chapelle, soon expanded into a ubiquitous emissary of the Victorian empire.
Julius Reuter's monopoly, fattening on low cable rates, brought him power, fortune, a baronetcy from his native Germany. His son's suicide in 1915 ended the dynasty and brought Reuters up against a crisis. While it wobbled, shrewd, sparrow-like Roderick Jones, Reuter man from South Africa, stepped in and bought up the shares. As Britain's propaganda minister in World War I, he won a knighthood, saw that his agency toed the empire line.
Sweeping Success. Reuter men who were around the musty London office in his day recall, but not fondly, that a man could be sacked for not dressing to Sir Roderick's fussy taste. The sidewalk was swept each morning, just before his Rolls-Royce pulled up at the curb. Sir Roderick baldly declared that his agency stood " for the advancement of British influence."
In 1925 he sold out to a group of provincial papers, but held on to his job as head man until 1941. Then, with its revenues depleted by the war, Reuters wobbled again. London newspaper proprietors bought half the shares, a new charter was drawn, and Reuters, a true cooperative for the first time in its life, looked around for a bright young man to run it.
To the Manchester Guardian's able Sir William Haley, director of Reuters, Christopher Chancellor looked like the man. Chancellor was an Eton and Cambridge man who started out as a copyreader in Reuter's London office, spent eight years as correspondent at Shanghai.
Given the title of editor, he set out with Sir Williams help to clean house, put a stop to Reuter's indirect Government subsidies, step up its service, pep up its staff and its 2,000 correspondents.
But his No. 1 mission was to rebuild Reuter's tattered reputation. As one step in the process, he and Sir William (now BBC chairman) came to the U.S. in 1942 "to win back the confidence and respect of the A.P." They won it. Chancellor never misses a chance to proclaim Reuter's independence. "Reuters," he once quipped, "is no Tass, nor even a demi-Tass."
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